2010 Honda Insight vs. 2010 Toyota Prius, 1998 Chevy Metro

2010 Honda Insight vs. 2010 Toyota Prius, 1998 Chevy Metro 2010 Honda Insight vs. 2010 Toyota Prius, 1998 Chevy Metro
Comparison Tests

What we have here is an official C/D comparison test in which the photo vehicle, a Honda Pilot, proved far quicker than any of our contestants. These cars make you feel guilty about eating red meat. Convicted road ragers should be forced to do time in any of these three.

Both hybrids here are brand-new, if not all-new. The Honda Insight, which made its debut in 1999, has undergone the most radical transformation, gaining one cylinder, 25 horsepower, a back seat, and a shape that no longer resembles a tadpole in a spandex body wrap. In fact, what the Insight looks like is the Prius but with a smiling-fish grille instead of the Toyota’s frowning-fish grille.

We drove these mileage maestros on a 600-mile odyssey—a mix of interstates, country two-lanes, urban loops, and hilly whirligigs. The route led us from Ann Arbor through Columbus and ultimately to the southern Ohio towns of Knockemstiff and Tranquility via a side trip to Serpent Mound, a six-foot-tall earthen replica of a huge snake that was either produced by Native Americans 1000 years ago or by a ’50s-era farmer with a strong John Deere and an even stronger sense of humor.

There were no driving rules. Eco mode was not mandated. Using the air conditioner was legal. So were jack-rabbit starts and dangerous cornering speeds, neither of which we were able to accomplish. In short, we drove as we always do, trying to eke out some fun, and our observed fuel-economy figures reflect that. Indeed, that was the whole point of this test—to drive these things the way we’d drive regular cars. The regular-car control group was represented here by a 1998 Chevrolet Metro, and it was exceedingly regular. Funny that both hybrids’ consumption computers were optimistic—the Prius’s by 4 mpg, the Insight’s by 3 mpg. Final note: Knockemstiff didn’t. Tranquility was.